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Consumers Express Fraud Fears in Mobile Payments

Published
  • July 07 2011, 5:25am EDT

July 7, 2011 – The emerging U.S. mobile-payments market could face some resistance from consumers who are worried about fraud, according to new research.

In an online survey of 405 adult U.S. credit cardholders conducted in May for Auriemma Consulting Group's Cardbeat report, some 33 percent of respondents said they would be uncomfortable using a mobile phone to make in-store purchases.

Of the 275 respondents in that group, 56 percent worried about identity theft and 55 percent were not sure if mobile payments would be secure.

"The security concerns are certainly legitimate," Scott Strumello, an associate at Auriemma Consulting Group, says. "If you want to see more [mobile-payments] adoption, I think the security issues need to be addressed."

Young consumers likely will represent the largest target market for mobile-payment companies, the report says.

"The comfort level tends to be skewed to the younger consumer," Strumello says. "Maybe those younger consumers haven't experienced credit card fraud and one experience like that will change your opinion overnight."

Some 48 percent of respondents under the age of 45 are more likely to obtain a new phone for mobile-payment features. That same group also shows a willingness to use a mobile device for other activities, the research says. Some 56 percent of those respondents are more likely to use mobile banking weekly.

Strumello says that to offset consumer concerns, companies could step up efforts to inform consumers about federal regulations that protect against fraud, regardless of the payment method used to access a payment card.

"The security is already written into the law, for the most part," he says. "Companies will have to address consumers' concerns in a way they haven't in the past."

Of the 130 respondents who are comfortable with the idea of making mobile payments at retail locations, 58 percent cited speed as the primary reason. Some 55 percent liked the idea of new technology while 39 percent liked the idea of not carrying a wallet.

Some 35 percent of respondents from that group said they believe mobile payments would be secure.

In addition to educating consumers about mobile security, the research says companies will need to persuade them to change how they pay.

"A lot of consumers just don't seem to see any big benefit to using a mobile device [instead of] a card," Strumello says.

Some 59 percent of respondents say that mobile phones are meant primarily for calls while traditional payment methods already serve their needs.

"This is the challenge for these startups," Strumello says. "They have to show consumers why it's compelling to reach for their phone instead of a card."

This story originally appeared on American Banker.

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